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Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Christian’

The word “cult” gets tossed around a lot, even by people who belong to them.  Many definitions abound, so it’s easy to pick one that might not include your own group, especially if you don’t meet all the criteria on a particular list.  Various degrees of denial make cult definitions a subjective pursuit.  This week my friends shared two helpful links about cults and abusive groups that are worth your time to check out.

Looking back on my life, I have quite a cult resume.

My husband and I would have never considered ourselves in a cult, or worse yet, the leaders of one, when we were in the Hebrew Roots Movement.  We did not follow any particular teacher, although we had friends who did.  We saw the movement as something God brought together because it wasn’t started or led by any one particular person.  People from many different Christian backgrounds came together under one common bond.  While every group had to muddle through many various points of contention, we had given our minds over to one idea which became the foundation of belief and the basis for our fellowship.  Nearly anything or anyone we recognized as having this same beginning premise, we trusted, and believed.

As this election season has heated up, I have watched this phenomenon in the political realm too, and see the human condition is so very prone to wanting a framework with neat, concise answers. We want talking points, dogmas, and simplified answers to our dissenters.  Go-to catch phrases head off any opponents arguments.  We become emotionally attached to our systems and ideas, take them on as part of our personal identities, and tie them on tightly with our fear and pride.

Seeing the political sides take shape, I realized that cults can gel around an ideology just as easily as a person.  Candidates are playing into the idea, trying to appear as if they are closely aligned with the values of the group they seek to represent.

Once the idea has become concrete, this is where the danger comes in.  Anytime we give up asking questions, listening, and investigating, we are in danger of cult-like thinking.  If we pledge our support for something, and emotionally invest in a “side”, we are much less likely to think objectively about our own camp, be it religious, political, or national.  It doesn’t matter how free of an atmosphere we have to ask questions, if we don’t.

Our religious “cult” was not formed or held together by Jesus, but a list of commands that pointed to Him.  We saw them as Him.  And He came to open the way for so much more than this in our relationship with Him.  What if I, as a wife, viewed my husband as only our marriage license.  I look at the paper every day, frame it so I can hang it on the wall, and make sure I tell everyone I meet about this agreement and what it entitles me to.  Yet, he is standing there wanting to love and be loved.

Cults of any kind are demanding, but Jesus is inviting.  The spiritual difference is life and death.  People who have not experienced the deep, healing love of Christ are trying to fill a need when they follow a cult of any kind, religious or otherwise.  We want belonging, and we want to be right.  It feels safe and warm in a way, yet we never quite “arrive”.  There is always one more bit of knowledge, or a higher degree of compliance to achieve.

If I could zap you through this screen and give you a sense of how much MORE Jesus has for you than the much less you are settling for, while believing you are in the elite crowd of the chosen few, I would.  But I can’t.  I pray the Holy Spirit does reveal this to you even though you probably found this blog looking for information that you agreed with, and this wasn’t it.  I say, just let Him love you.  He died so You could know the depth of His love, and you are running backward to the shadow.  You don’t have to earn His love, or fear a curse.  Just let Him love you.

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Our Nation

Which rules the earth,

Great is her name.

Let her kingdom come

Her will be done

On earth

As the will of heaven.

Give us always

Our American Dream

And excuse our excesses

As we pursue our enemies.

Lead us not into tyranny

But deliver us from economic depression

For ours is the victory

And the power

And the glory

Forever.

Does the prayer of our Lord only reach as far as a church wall, or does His mind rule within us in our affairs?  Which master do we serve and trust?   Let the world follow their beasts of power and might.  Let those who trust in the Lord seek His face.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”   

I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me,“You are my Son; today I have begotten you.  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalms 2

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…the day many Christians in America demonstrate that it’s easier to have an agenda than a gospel.  I have been urged by so many to show my support for a Christian-owned, fast-food chain being “oppressed” because of its vocal stance on …  what was it again?  Christ and Him crucified?  The “least of these”?  Loving our enemies?  Turning the other cheek?  Are we being attacked for something Jesus wanted us to be saying and doing in the first place?  Do our agendas communicate the gospel of Christ or distract and confuse?  

I agree it is SO much easier to fight for a social/political cause than to just be sharing the gospel.  I have had the same problem.  I found it so much easier to talk about obedience to God and the rules than to focus on Jesus.  That is a good summary of my Christian witness until a few years ago.

When I was younger, political causes often sucked me into their fervor.  I’ve always been interested in politics and had started pursuing political science in college.  I ascribed to dogmas and drew lines between “us” and “them” based on philosophy and culture.  Just like false religion feeds the pride cycle of being the  MOST right, most political agendas do as well.  I have not seen love and compassion come out of these Christian political movements, but there is plenty of fear, hate, personal attacks, misrepresentations, half-truths, and a righteous indignation toward all the unspeakable sins of this evil world.

As I’ve grown older and less willing to follow preachers or politicians, and wanted only a Jesus Worldview,  I see things really differently than I used to.  A Biblical worldview is a deceptive word. Muslims have a pretty Biblical worldview, as do followers of Judaism.  They believe in Creation, judgment of sin by a Holy God, and morality.  But neither of these religions have Jesus, or His Good News.  Christians as well can tout a Biblical worldview without any grace or love.  Without any Jesus.  

I love it when I find other authors who say what I want to say, only better.  Here is an excerpt from Carl Medearis in his book, Speaking of Jesus.  He went to a coffee shop in his hometown where he liked to hang out (a place Jesus would probably spend His time too, on the wrong side of the tracks), and started asking questions.

One day I took a notebook and started polling every person I could get my hands on.  I wanted to test out some word associations.  I worked for a couple of hours, and I got some surprising results.  The most striking responses I got were the replies to questions like “What do Christians do?”  

 

Eighty-five percent of the people polled said the same thing, each in different words.  “Christians are against things.  They fight us and judge us and they hate us.”

 

That should set us all back on our heels.

 

…Guess what Jesus was never accused of?  Of being against things.  He wasn’t defined by His hatred of things.  Imagine if He were.

“Here comes Jesus the sin hater.”

“Jesus, Son of David, opposer of liberals, have mercy on me, a sinful man!”

 

Or, Jesus asks the disciples…

“Who do you say that I am? “

“Easy, Jesus.”  Peter raises his hand.  “You’re against the Romans, the Samaritans, the barbarians, and the French!”

The author goes on to say that the people he talked to were very interested in Jesus, as long as He didn’t have anything to do with Christianity.  I think there is enough evidence to suggest that we have failed miserably to show the world who He is… in the United States at least.

I do not like the manner in which we have drawn the attacks, nor in the way we have responded to them.  Jesus promised we would be hated of all men, but I don’t think He meant through political, social agendas.  This wasn’t His way.  Real persecution comes when we really follow Him, not when we act out of fear of losing our “way of life”.  

We act surprised that anyone would dare infringe on our right to say what we want.  And instead of communicating love to those people who are behaving exactly as we should expect them to act, we fight back with a crusade to continue proving we are right and God is on our side.

I am amazed how many Christians will rally around a chicken sandwich because they are so opposed to gay people having legal rights, and so concerned that we maintain the right to speak out against them.  What if Christians in America could rally around Christians who are really truly suffering for their witness, such as this man who spent many years in a prison because he shared Jesus with three families in a single village?  He was beaten, deprived food, kept in solitary confinement, forced to labor gathering firewood for YEARS in a jungle.  All for Jesus.  Not an agenda.  How many Christians in the U.S. are sharing in this fellowship of suffering, with Jesus, and our brothers and sisters?  In all my years of trying to advocate for the Persecuted Church, these beautiful souls have never gotten the kind of support that a wealthy Christian business family is finding.  Forgive me if that breaks my heart.

 

In John 12:26 Jesus said, “If anyone serves Me, He must follow Me.  Where I am, there My servant also will be.”  

Are we with Jesus?  Or have we let someone else define for us what it means to be a righteous Christian?  I know I have allowed other voices to shout Him out many times.  But thankfully when they have worn themselves out, His still small voice is still there, urging us to Himself.

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